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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya…

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

by Maya Angelou

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Maya Angelou's Autobiographies (1)

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English (106)  Dutch (1)  All languages (107)
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
Yet another book that you have to take a deep breath before writing a review about. If for no other reason that what can be said about it that has not already been said?

I have been meaning to read this book for many years. Looked for it when I could remember (I often forget to bring my notebook that has books I am supposed to look for that I think I want to read). I finally came across it in a used bookstore and its been sitting on my shelf for about a year.

All I can say is, if you have not read this book, you are missing out! The book, the woman, is as amazing as everything you have heard about her and it. The prose is lyrical, haunting, like dripping honey infused with lavender highlights that seep into your soul and speaks directly to it.

For those that are not familiar with the story, its an autobiography of her younger life where she and her brother were left in the care of their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, life there in their country store, the racism and hatred that was part of the time, and even more so in a small Southern town. Through her words, we are drawn into the little store, the home her and her brother share with their grandmother, her simple words, so perfect, you can smell the smells of the fires, taste the sugar lumps on their fingertips and smart at the harsh words of the white people who treat them as less than human.

When her mother shows up and carts them off to California, she shows you a new world. One that is changing fast with a new breed of colored that are finding a place in the world, a place where there is money and property. Where, if like her mother, you are light enough to almost pass for one of the white women, doors open for you. It is in this world that Maya is raped by her mother's boyfriend.

One of the most striking things of the novel is the lack of anger in the voice of the author. The story is told in the gentle voice of a storyteller who is passing along a tale of how things were. It is story to be savored by any willing to open its pages and promises sadness and tears, joy and laughter and an empowerment of the spirit. It is the story of a child who rose from the dust of the South to become one of the greatest and most loved voices in American Literature.

http://sephipiderwitch.com/know-caged-bird-sings-maya-angelo/ ( )
  sephibitchwitch | Jan 6, 2015 |
This is a first-hand account of growing up black and female in depression-era USofA. Re-visiting the years from around age 3 to 17, Angelou imbues her narrative with humour and grace. At times, she comes across as a bit too altruistic but it's clear that she lived a life of strength through adversity. There are some laugh-out-loud funny moments, ("I say, Preach it!"), and many poignant observations, ("If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.")

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a relatively short and easy read. There are apparently more installments that complete her full memoir. I will have to look them up as I found this first volume fascinating. ( )
  ScoLgo | Dec 4, 2014 |
Frankly, Maya, I don't give a damn why the caged bird sings. ( )
2 vote EnriqueFreeque | Oct 11, 2014 |
This is a re-read "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" again, after many years ago. This time around, I feel even more compelled to read the rest of Maya Angelou's autobiographical series (I am not sure if I was aware then that there were more). In this first volume, Angelou recalls her early life from early childhood to about the age of 18. She writes beautifully but this doesn't cover up the ugliness of some incidents of her life in pre-Civil-Rights America; her writing serves to be extremely compelling. Angelou does recall her remarkable grandmother and other members of her family who were part of the formation of Angelou's being. Loved reading this book and I'm definitely following through and searching for the next one of her seven memoirs, "Gather Together in My Name". ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Sep 23, 2014 |
She's a good writer. This is an autobiography. Growing up black and segregated. I enjoyed it at first but got tired of it. Kind of repetitious. ( )
  pdepena | Jul 25, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maya Angelouprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rutten, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to my son
Guy Johnson,
and all the strong black birds of promise who defy the odds and gods and sing their songs
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James Baldwin Writes:

This testimony from a Black sister marks the beginning of a new era in the minds and hearts and lives of all Black men and women...
I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity. I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood, when the people in books were more real than the people one saw every day, have I found myself so moved ...
her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death."

The Moving and Beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. She continues her story in gather together in GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME, SINGIN' AND SWINGIN' AND GETTIN' MERRY LIKE CHRISTMAS and THE HEART OF A WOMAN.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553279378, Mass Market Paperback)

In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned a great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. These very lessons carried her throughout the hardships she endured later in life, including a tragic occurrence while visiting her mother in St. Louis and her formative years spent in California--where an unwanted pregnancy changed her life forever. Marvelously told, with Angelou's "gift for language and observation," this "remarkable autobiography by an equally remarkable black woman from Arkansas captures, indelibly, a world of which most Americans are shamefully ignorant."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:36 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Presents the story of a spirited and gifted, but poor, black girl growing up in the South in the 1930's. Tells how she came into her own, experiencing prejudice, family difficulties, and a relationship with a teacher who taught her to respect books, learning, and herself. The moving and beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. "I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood have I found myself so moved. Her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death".-James Baldwin.… (more)

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